Keepin’ things on the down low with Chien-Ming Wang

That was some performance tonight from Wang, eh? He mixed in change-ups, sliders, fastballs to keep the Mets hitters off balance. And nothing showed this more than Jose Reyes’ wild swing at a change-up in the 8th in which the speedy lead-off hitter screwed himself into the ground. Wang was, in other words, nothing short of brilliant.

For Wang, it’s been a long time coming. Now, that isn’t to say that he hasn’t been brilliant in his three years with the Yanks. But as Mike pointed out in the comments to an early post tonight, Wang’s minor league numbers showed a higher strike out rate. Yet, in the Majors, Wang has relied on his very effective sinker to become one of the game’s premiere groundball pitcher; his career 2.93 GB/FB ratio certainly puts Kei Igawa to shame.

But his Major League strike out numbers have been abysmal. His career K/9 IP is 3.58. Because of this, Chien-Ming’s critics have routinely predicted the ever-popular regression to the means for Wang. While some of the more astute analysts recognize that Wang’s stuff — and his mid-90s sinker — will lead to success even without strike out rates, others feel that it was just a matter of time before the league managed to touch up Wang.

While the detractors looked right after the righties first few starts this year, the Wanger has really turned things around since April, and he capped off a stellar few weeks tonight against the Mets. Wang recorded 26 outs tonight: 13 by ground, 0 by sea, 3 by air and 10 by strike out. That is, of course, a career high. Wang used his sinker, a great slider and an effective change-up to keep the Mets guessing and flailing all night.

We’ve seen signs of this rise in strike out rates all season. He fanned 5 Red Sox and 6 Angels a few weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to see how the season progresses with Wang. He’s 6-1 over his last 7 starts with a K/9 IP of 5.4. That is a recipe for success.

Meanwhile, the Yanks head west with a 13-3 start to June. They’re 3.5 games out of a playoff spot and are playing like the juggernaut everyone thought they would. These are good times for Yankee fans.

Wang – Pettitte – Mussina – Clemens – Hughes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed those names in succession since the beginning of the season. It was an affirmation — my way of saying, “we may be down now, but look at what we could have by June.” Indeed, on paper, the Yanks will hold the best rotation in the league in the second half of the season. Now it’s a matter of keeping everyone healthy and in the rotation for the rest of the season.

However, many detractors emerged yesterday. “He can’t pitch in the AL East,” they say. “He’s a five or six inning pitcher” they add. All in an attempt to rob Yankees fans of our joy. Some Yankees fans are buying into that line of thinking, too, saying that Roger won’t help the bullpen woes — he might even exacerbate them.

To all of you, I say: look at the numbers.

Yes, my initial joy over the Roger signing was an emotionally based one. A team with pitching questions signs the greatest or second greatest pitcher of our generation (gotta give Pedro his props). Gotta love it. But now, with a day to recover, here’s why Rocket will be just fine with the Yanks.

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Almost perfect

It is incredibly tense to be sitting at Yankee Stadium during the 8th inning of a perfect game. When Ben Broussard launched that home run, the Stadium collectively sighed in disappointment and then gave Chien Ming Wang one of the best standing ovations in a long time. Why Joe Torre uses Brian Bruney in the 9th inning of a six-run game but not in the 5th yesterday is well beyond me.

Rumblings and grumblings surround Wang, Dice-K

In what would be a highly anticipated match-up halfway across the globe as well as in Boston and New York, rumors are surfacing that the pitching-strapped Yanks may have Chien-Ming Wang make his next rehab start not in the minors but in Fenway Park against Daisuke Matsuzaka on ESPN this Sunday. But Brian Cashman has denied these rumors. Personally, I would think Wang is ready for a Major League start. If his hammy’s feeling up for it, why have him waste innings pitching at an A-ball game when the Big League club is in desperate need of hurlers?